'All eyes are on him': Robredo expects Peralta to protect integrity of Supreme Court

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo expressed confidence that newly appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta will protect the integrity of the High Court, especially in the electoral protest filed against her by former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

Robredo made the statement in her radio program Biserbisyong Leni on DWIZ on Sunday, October 27,when asked about her expectations from the new chief justice who would head the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) handling Marcos' electoral protest.

She said that since President Rodrigo Duterte announced the appointment of Peralta as the country's new top magistrate, there have been many social media posts – including photos of Peralta with the Marcoses – questioning the impartiality of the Chief Justice in relation to the electoral protest. Robredo, however, is of a different view.

"Pero iyong sa akin, labas ito [kaso] sa kung ano man iyong affiliations before. The fact na Chief Justice siya ngayon, inaasahan natin na ang ipaglalaban niya, hindi naman iyong personal niyang mga preferences, pero ang ipaglalaban niya iyong integrity ng institution," Robredo said.

(For me, this [case] is outside whatever affiliations [he] had before. The fact that he is now Chief Justice, we expect that he would fight for is the integrity of the institution, and not his personal preferences.)

The SC earlier releases the results of the recount of votes in the 3 pilot provinces in the vice presidential electoral protest, which showed Robredo gaining more votes over Marcos. Despite this, the case has not yet been dismissed nor has the PET decided how to act next.

Robredo, however, believed that Peralta knew that all eyes are on him, and that he would act responsibly. 

"Lahat naman ng aksyon niya hindi na ito personal na lang iyong magiging responsible, pero iyong magiging actuations niya parating may impact ito sa pagtingin ng tao sa judiciary.... Alam niya naman na iyong lahat na mata, nag-aabang. So tingin ko, hindi naman niya isusugal iyong buong institusyon dahil sa kanyang personal preferences," Robredo said.

(All his actions won't just affect him, his future actuations will have an impact on how the public views the judiciary.... He knows all eyes are on him. I don't think he will risk the whole institution for his personal preferences.)

Favoring Marcos: Peralta's most controversial ponencia in the SC to date is the widely-slammed hero's burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (FAST FACTS: Who is new Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta?)

During his stint at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, Peralta penned the ruling that allowed Marcos crony Danding Cojuangco Jr to retain his 20% share in San Miguel Corporation (SMC), instead of awarding it to the farmers. Retired chief justice Lucas Bersamin later upheld Peralta's ruling in the High Court while Peralta inhibited in the High Court for being the Sandiganbayan ponente. 

In another court: Meanwhile, Robredo expressed dismay over a Sandiganbayan decision to junk yet a P267.371 million  ill-gotten wealth case against the Marcoses, citing "defects" in the evidence submitted to the anti-graft court. 

The Vice President said more effort should have been exerted on reviewing the substance of the documents.

"Ito iyong nakakapanlumo kasi iyong perang pinag-aawayan, pera ng taumbayan. Na iyong pera ng taumbayan, parang malulusaw dahil sa technicalities.... Obvious na obvious din pero na-dismiss. Ito iyong nagbabawas ng paniniwala ng taumbayan sa judicial system," she said.

(It's really disappointing because the disputed money is the people's money, that the people's money would be lost because of  technicalities.... It was obvious yet it was dismissed. This is what erodes people's belief in the justice system.) – Rappler.com


Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.